This morning, while compiling the weekend’s clips, I noticed a number of news stories about homeless youth.
Niche topics in this field all have their time: In January, it’s about community counts, in February it can be about the cold and shelters; you can count on a slew of stories about veterans in November and stories urging charity and philanthropy once the holidays roll around. But the last few weeks have been unusual – stories from North Carolina and Wisconsin and Virginia and Ohio about homeless young people.
And it’s about time.
We’ve talked about it before (well, Jeremy has.) Youth homelessness is an issue that’s often overlooked and under-examined. Youth, in that no man’s land between child and adult, can baffle homeless assistance providers who often deal with single adults or families. Unaccompanied youth – sometimes youth who age out of the foster care system or exit the juvenile justice system or run away from home – can be faced with an overwhelming dearth of services available to them once they find themselves homeless.
And it’s the perfect time to address such a problem.
The Alliance has kicked off an effort encouraging communities to include youth in next January’s point-in-time counts – and we’re also smack in the middle of a site visit campaign, encouraging local service providers to invite their Members of Congress to drop by and observe their assistance programs. Making the issue real – by collecting data and engaging an audience – can demonstrate the importance of a cause and encourage people to focus on real solutions.
Youth homelessness is an issue that’s too long stood in the background – but now is an opportunity to do something productive. Tell us about youth homelessness in your area – are there programs in your neighborhood making a difference?